Following a season where the Steelers were 26th overall in rushing, to say the Steelers running game was a disappointment last season is an understatement. At times, the running game did well, but more often than not, the running game struggled. Some could argue this is a big reason the Steelers went 8-8.
2012 is in the past, but the Steelers know that the variables have to change in order to have more success this upcoming season. The Steelers have shown this through several moves. First, after a bad 2012 season for Rashard Mendenhall, they were not interested in retaining him and they decided to part ways. Then, in the second round of the 2013 draft, the Steelers drafted running back Le’Veon Bell out of Michigan State. With the addition of free agent Larod Stephens-Howling, the running back room looks totally different.
After hearing Todd Haley call Le’Veon Bell a three-down back, I am very convinced that while Bell is not a lock to start, it’s his job to loose. That leaves Baron Batch, Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, and Larod Stephens-Howling to battle it out for, in my mind, 2-3 spots. I believe Baron Batch and Larod Stephens-Howling are both going to make the roster mainly because I feel like they will have different roles even though they are both more or less third-down backs. Batch is a special teams player who is okay at running up the middle and okay as a third-down back. Stephens-Howling will most likely be the Steelers returner, as well as possibly playing on third downs.
That leaves Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman. In my mind, they are similar sized backs that would have similar roles. I believe they are both decent running backs, but I don’t think they can coexist with the group of running backs the Steelers currently have. I just can’t see the Steelers keeping both Redman and Dwyer. I feel like both players know this, so it will be a very interesting camp battle to watch. To me, the playing field is pretty even, so I have decided to turn to the film because as they say, “the eye in the sky will never lie.”